Turn the Lights On!

Maeve Drummond Oakes
Grade Levels
Formats Included
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122 pages
Maeve Drummond Oakes


In this unit, students are taught the mathematical and scientific concepts related to electrical energy and renewable resources by incorporating an engineering design challenge. At the outset of the unit, students are introduced to power generation and the client, the members of Indiana Office of Energy Development, who need to determine a new power generation system that will effectively reduce contamination of chemical releases in the environment. Students use what they know about electrical energy and renewable resources to develop a strategy to test for electrical power generating systems. Finally, students write a letter, including their designs and design justifications, to pitch their experimental design to the client. A full online teacher professional development course for this unit is available on nanoHUB.org. Teachers can check out a box of supplies to use for the lessons, at no cost, by contacting Maeve Drummond Oakes at maeve@purdue.edu

Total Pages
122 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
3 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Model with mathematics. Mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace. In early grades, this might be as simple as writing an addition equation to describe a situation. In middle grades, a student might apply proportional reasoning to plan a school event or analyze a problem in the community. By high school, a student might use geometry to solve a design problem or use a function to describe how one quantity of interest depends on another. Mathematically proficient students who can apply what they know are comfortable making assumptions and approximations to simplify a complicated situation, realizing that these may need revision later. They are able to identify important quantities in a practical situation and map their relationships using such tools as diagrams, two-way tables, graphs, flowcharts and formulas. They can analyze those relationships mathematically to draw conclusions. They routinely interpret their mathematical results in the context of the situation and reflect on whether the results make sense, possibly improving the model if it has not served its purpose.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Evaluate competing design solutions for maintaining biodiversity and ecosystem services. Examples of ecosystem services could include water purification, nutrient recycling, and prevention of soil erosion. Examples of design solution constraints could include scientific, economic, and social considerations.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Use mathematical representations to describe a simple model for waves that includes how the amplitude of a wave is related to the energy in a wave. Emphasis is on describing waves with both qualitative and quantitative thinking. Assessment does not include electromagnetic waves and is limited to standard repeating waves.


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